Blog: Portfolio spotlight: Using iBeacons in the mobile application for exhibitions

Visiting an exhibition, you may want to use a specific mobile application developed for the particular event. Especially if we’re talking about an airplane show, which tend to cover large areas. During the show, you would definitely like to know exactly where you are, what’s around you, and where else to go. Using map services to implement the previously mentioned features is a fairly simple and common task. But how do we get information about the various exhibits? Well, here we have an opportunity to integrate a truly fascinating IoT device. Our app developers used Apple’s iBeacons as part of our Live Airshow mobile application to enhance the attendee’s experience..

Please watch the following video to learn more about this technology in particular, and other features of the Live Airshow application.

Background on iBeacons

Apple introduced iBeacon data transfer protocol in 2013. So, iBeacon is a relatively new technology which has yet to be widely adopted by app developers.

A small transmitter (typically called beacon) is at the heart of the iBeacon technology. iBeacons are constantly broadcasting the unique identifier to smartphones and other compatible devices located nearby.

iBeacon detection range varies from a few centimeters to 10 meters. Actually, the distance is categorized in 3 distinct ranges:

  • Immediate (when devices are within a few centimeters);
  • Near (within a couple of meters);
  • Far (around 10 meters).

Mobile applications can perform various actions, depending on the iBeacon’s range and its unique ID. The information about the airplane pops up on the screen when the user of the Live Airshow application approaches the exhibit. Actually, the beacon placed near the exhibit doesn’t broadcast the information about the airplane. Instead, it simply sends an identifier to the smartphone. And the mobile application in its turn displays the corresponding information from a local database or after downloading it from an online server.

Live Airshow iOS application

We use the Bluetooth Low Energy technology to perform the broadcast. You don’t have to worry about the energy consumption of the mobile application as BLE is energy-efficient, ensuring your smartphone won’t run out of power. It’s also worth mentioning that iBeacons can work for about 2 years on a single charge.

One more cool feature about the iBeacon technology is that 1 beacon can simultaneously connect to several smartphones, so you don’t need to stand in a queue to scan a QR-code or to read the information plate. This ensures users can get the correct information about the exhibits automatically in their mobile apps.

Live Airshow application features

Let’s get back to the review of the Live Airshow application. As you may have already guessed, it’s not just an ordinary exhibition application. For example, users can review a map of the show, see the demonstration flights schedule, get driving directions and even find a free parking slot, all directly in the application. Also, the administrators of the application can send messages to its users. This option allows interacting between the exhibition audience and the showrunners. This means that you can use the mobile app, for example, in case of an emergency.

The organizers of the airshow place iBeacons close to the exhibits. The visitors then discover information about the airplanes with the help of these iBeacons. Once the user comes close enough to the exhibit the information about the airplane automatically pops up on smartphone’s screen. That’s a very cool feature, but still we would like to tell you about one more amazing option in the application.

We’re talking about live video streaming from the cockpit during the demonstration flight. The visitors can see the live picture from the pilot’s point of view from the safety and comfort of being on the ground. So attendees can experience a realistic flight while standing at the exhibition and watching a plane in the sky. The video is broadcasted via Wi-Fi networks used at the airshow reducing lag or artifacts in the video stream.

The Live Airshow application supports data caching, so it can be used in offline mode,  which might come handy if the Wi-Fi connection goes down. Thus, the users can get the information about exhibits without using mobile Internet.

Application’s structure

Now let’s explore the application’s structure.

how to use iBeacons for an applicationThe application stores the information about the exhibits on the server. The application uses the Server API to connect to the server. The access to the live video stream is also granted here. Smartphones connect to iBeacons via a Bluetooth module. The administrators can edit data on the server and send push notifications to the users.

Download it!

The iBeacon technology is the main feature of the Live Airshow application. Despite the fact that Apple originally developed this technology, you can use iBeacons with both iOS and Android devices. Because of this, our team has developed applications running on both iOS and Android. You can download them for free from the Apple App Store.

Contact us now

The Live Airshow application can be easily customized for any particular event or even modified for use at some other exhibitions. If you’re considering the development of an iBeacon application for exhibitions, shows or other events, be sure to contact DB Best. Our developers will bring your ideas to life and build the mobile app of your dreams.